Islam and Muslims
Islam is the Arabic word meaning submission to God. Allah is the Arabic term for God. A Muslim is a person who embraces the Islamic faith and this Arabic word (Muslim) means one who submits to God or Allah.
The Islamic faith was founded by Muhammad sometime after the start of the 7th century (circa 610 AD). Muhammad was the orphaned son of Abdallah ibn Abd al-Muttalib of the Hashim clan and a successful merchant who was married to the widow Khadija and they had a daughter Fatima. At the age of 40 he experienced a vision from God that he should preach and he began annotating his various visions which eventually became incorporated into the Islamic holy book known as the Qua’ran.
Muhammad eventually went to Mecca with his preaching but made more enemies than converts due to the Pagan religious nature that predominated in Mecca at that time. In 622 an attempt was made to murder Muhammad and he fled from Mecca. The Islamic dating or calendar system began at this point in time.
Muhammad tried to enlist the aid of both Jews and Christians, but was shunned by both sects.
For the next 10 years Muhammad preached and developed the Islamic religion in the city of Medina (Yathrib) and his efforts flourished in this new environment that was on the trade route from Mecca. His disciples of legates began spreading the word of Islam in Persia, Ethiopia and the Asia. Eventually the pagan beliefs of Mecca also fell to Islam.
The legends and traditions of Muhammad are found in the Hadith, while his deeds and sayings are in the Sunna. He died in 632.
Today there are more than 1 billion followers of Islam of which more than 70% are found out side of the Arabic world as far South as many African nations, as far East as parts of Asian continent and as far North as Macedonia, Serbia, Bulgaria and the Russian state of Georgia.
The basic tenets of the religion include an eventual pilgrimage to Mecca, fasting at night during the month of Ramadan, accepting the fact that “there is no god but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God,” daily prayer rituals which include bowing to the general direction of Mecca. Muslims believe in final reward and punishment as detailed or found in their various holy texts and the unity of the “Nation of Islam.”
After the death of Muhammad a rift occurred with the powers of succession in leadership and two separate sects developed. The Sunni branch is the largest with 90% of all Muslims, while the Shiite is the smaller of the two branches and based on the succession of leadership by Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, Ali. The Shiites do not recognize the other earlier leadership of the Islamic religion (the first three caliphs, or religious leaders) but view Ali as the first rightful caliph after Muhammad. Shiite clerics are often called mullahs and mujtahids, plus in some modern situations they are also known as ayatollah (which means sign of God in Arabic) which doesn’t really have a religious significance, it’s more of a moniker.
Starting in the 10th or 11th Century that Catholic church began organizing “crusades” from various countries, including England, France and Italy, to capture the “holy land” of Palestine and the city of Jerusalem back from the Muslims. These crusades continued into the 15th Century when a variety of truces or agreements were reached opening the region to Christian pilgrims.
Then in the 19th Century Palestine, which was under English dominion, was opened up to Jewish settlers as we documented in our first issue back in May of 2001.
The lack of support for Muhammad and his Islamic revelations from both Christians and Jews in the early 7th century, followed by the Crusades of 11th through 15th Centuries and the installation of Jewish settlements in the late 19th and early 20th centuries all served to enrage and anger both Islamic and Arabic leaders (most of whom were Muslims).
While Mecca is the holiest of areas for Muslims and Islam, Palestine and Jerusalem holds major significance for Muslims, Jews and Christians as being a very holy area of the world.
War of Rhetoric | Osama bin Laden | About Islam | The Crusades
Terrorism | Saddam Hussein
Can We Survive? | Both Ways | Military Accountability | Government 1
Origin of Religion | We Cannot Lose To Racisim
From our past issues...
Prisoner Abuse | Court Martials | Military Way
History of Abuses | Under God? | Attack on US
WTC Comments | Interview with Soldier | Crisis In Jerusalem